Rohit Sharma wants to leave a mark on the next generation

As Rohit Sharma prepares to lead the side in what would be his ninth ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, the veteran India opener and captain talked about his legacy and aiming to leave a mark for the younger generation.

Rohit is one of only two players to play all editions of the T20 World Cup, with the right-hander and Bangladesh veteran Shakib Al Hasan having participated in every 20-over showcase thus far.

“It is quite exciting (playing another T20 World Cup),” Rohit told the ICC recently.

“I never thought about it, honestly speaking. But it is nice having played all the T20 World Cups. And I've enjoyed every bit of it. When you come to ICC tournaments, it is always exciting, [and] brings a lot of new challenges.”

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Rohit made a sizzling start to his T20 World Cup journey in 2007, smashing a half-century in his first-ever innings to win the Player of the Match award in a crunch game against South Africa.

However, the 37-year-old stated that the first thing that came to his mind from the tournament was the bowl-out against Pakistan in 2007.

“I think the first thing that comes to my mind is the bowl-out that we had against Pakistan,” Rohit said.

“I think that was the first ever bowl-out that happened, and for us to come out on top was even more exciting. You know, it has never happened before. No teams have done it in the World Cup.

“So it was quite exciting for us to have a crack at it and come out on top eventually. And I still remember that after our normal training, we used to train for bowl-outs, which was quite exciting. Everyone used to participate in that bowl-out.

"And we knew at some stage we have to have, we have to play and win that game through bowl-out. And that's exactly what happened when we played a game against Pakistan. And like I said, it was nice to come out on top.”

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Talking of the evolution of the tournament as such, having walked the journey himself, Rohit stated that the format had “actually reached to a level where nobody believed”.

“Honestly speaking, when it started, we had no clue about how it's going to make a mark on world cricket. Now that we sit back after playing the first inaugural World Cup, which was in 2007, and we are in 2024 now. 17 years have passed by.

“Every year you see the style of play, how players have evolved playing this format. It is quite exciting and I never thought it would reach this level because when it started, obviously it was a very unknown factor to the world as to what this format will bring to the world. I must say that it has actually reached a level where nobody believed.

“But that's also a lot to do with how the players have, each country and the players have evolved with the game and taken it to the next level.”

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Stressing that winning a World Cup is the “most prestigious” thing a player can do in his career, Rohit said that he hoped to make an impact on the future generation of cricketers.

“Look, it's always been the dream to win World Cups. Winning the World Cup is the most prestigious thing that you can ever do. And for me, nothing changes from all the World Cups that I have played. I always wanted to win and I will still keep driving towards that,” he added.

“As a player of the national team, our responsibility is to encourage the next generation to take up the sport and play the sport. So I think that is something that I want to leave behind, leave a mark on the next generation who are going to follow us, the way we play, the way we carry ourselves on the field.

“Those are the things that I'll be really proud of if I can leave something behind on those lines. I think it's mentally, to keep myself calm and enjoy the sport, enjoy each and every bit of it.

“I think it's important that you try and be in the moment, enjoy that present moment, and leave the rest up to the Almighty. Because I think it's important that you keep doing what you're supposed to do and be sincere in your work ethics, be true to the sport. And I think if I can do all of that, that's perfect.”

India will take on Ireland in their opening group encounter in the Men's T20 World Cup in New York on Wednesday, June 5.

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